Budget director’s position axed from proposed budget

By: Eric Czarnik | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 14, 2012

WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield Budget Director Shellye Dade’s career path could change starting next year, after the Township Board of Trustees voted on an amendment to strike the budget director position from a proposed 2013 general fund budget.

At an Oct. 22 meeting, the township board voted 5-2 to make the elimination. Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste and Trustee Steven Kaplan were the dissenters.

Although the board was scheduled to discuss the upcoming general fund and public safety budgets, Trustee Larry Brown said the budget info was confusing and incomplete, adding that it only listed requests, as opposed to budget director recommendations.

Brown said he was frustrated and issued the motion to return the budgeting responsibilities to the Finance Department.

“Finance seems to have done the job prior to this,” he said. “We have struggled with these budgets.”

Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste hired Dade in 2011 after the former budget director, Steve Brideau, died. The township board voted earlier that year to split Brideau’s position into a full-time finance director who reports to Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy and a part-time budget director who reports to Ureste.

Brown said the system that he originally voted to support in 2011 is not working. “I probably have put an awful lot of burden on an awful lot of people in here trying to make this thing happen,” he said.

Other board members like Trustee Gene Farber stressed that their dissatisfaction with the budget handling is due to the process, not the people involved. He praised Dade for working “incredibly hard” but called the situation an experiment that wasn’t working.

On the other side, Ureste and Kaplan defended Dade’s position. Ureste praised Dade’s work and called the proposed removal a setback. Kaplan said the budget director should be working full time with benefits, and he opposed the township board’s decision partly because it wasn’t on the agenda.

“The public certainly would like to offer feedback and input,” he said.

Brown said the action was germane because it was a budget amendment, and Trustee Howard Rosenberg said the public could still comment at an upcoming public hearing when the township board decides to issue final approval of the general fund budget.

Dade said she preferred to leave the room during the decision, though she ended up staying for the vote. “You can have the discussion,” she said. “Whatever you feel is best, I will comply with that.”

The township board is expected to further discuss the general fund and the public safety fund at a later date and approve those budgets before the end of the year. Should the township board keep the budget director position out of the budget, the position would expire at the end of the year.

Find out more about West Bloomfield at www.wbtwp.com or at (248) 451-4800.